Lawnboy

Paul Lisicky, Author
Paul Lisicky, Author Turtle Point Press $13.95 (388p) ISBN 978-1-885983-40-4
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
Lisicky's long, attentive, gay coming-of-age novel largely sticks to familiar paths. Seventeen-year-old narrator Evan mows the lawn of his older Miami neighbor, William; one day they begin a secret affair. At first, denying his nature, Evan tries to date his best friend, Jane; soon, though, he runs away from his cold and critical parents to live at William's house. When their affair ends, Evan heads to Fort Lauderdale, where his estranged older brother Peter operates a seedy motel. There Evan meets Hector, Peter's assistant and sometime lover. (We later learn that Peter is bisexual, and may have fathered a child.) The worldly Hector teaches Evan what he knows about life and about being gay. When Hector moves on, Evan travels back to Miami, where he finds work in a plant nursery, and, sadder but wiser, awaits the future. The prose in Lisicky's debut ranges from competent to impressive. In one excellent scene, Hector wants to dress Evan in drag: ""And then he strayed from the outlines of my mouth, applying bars of lipstick across my jaw, my cheeks, my forehead, my hair."" Lisicky takes care to lay out his constantly worried protagonist's inner life; consistent symbolism likens Evan to plants waiting to put down roots. The plot, however, proceeds slowly and predictably, with some sex but not much sexiness. At one time, any honest coming-out novel could surprise, enlighten and excite: now the coming-out story is an established and honored literary genre. Apart from some Floridian locales, Lisicky's debut adds little to the form. (Oct.)
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